Environmental Rights Specialist (UNEP)

United Nations Volunteers (UNV)

Nairobi, Kenya 🇰🇪


Description of assignment title: Environmental Rights Specialist

Assignment country: Kenya

Expected start date: 01/08/2023

Sustainable Development Goal: 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

Volunteer category: International UN Volunteer Specialist

DoA reserved for persons with disabilities: No

Host entity: UNEP

Type: Onsite

Duration: 12 months

Number of assignments: 1

Duty stations: Nairobi


Mission and objectives
Since its inception in 1972, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been the global authority that sets the environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, UNEP works through its divisions as well as regional, liaison and out-posted offices and a growing network of collaborating centres of excellence.

UNEP’s mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action. Advancing the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment (the right to a healthy environment) is an explicit priority in UNEP’s Medium-Term Strategy for 2022–2025. Following the adoption of United Nations General Assembly resolution 76/300 in July 2022, which recognized the right to a healthy environment at the universal level, UNEP’s role in advancing the right to a healthy environment has become more important than ever.
The implementation of General Assembly resolution 76/300 is expected to have several benefits. It is expected to serve as a catalyst for constitutional amendments, as well as strengthening environmental legislation, regulations, standards, and policies; educate policymakers, civil servants, judiciaries, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), and the private sector; and inform and empower civil society, environmental human rights defenders, indigenous peoples and other rightsholders, including the general public. It will promote a rights-based approach, facilitate accelerated environmental actions and help States meet their obligations under multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). It will also assist States and stakehold-ers to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly SDGs 1, 5, 12, 13, 15, 16, and 17 – and environmental protection in several ways. Predominantly, this will be done by providing the tools to implement rights-based approaches to all actions including environmental, social, and economic. It will also help to inform a consistent approach to the UN system’s activities that involve addressing environmental impacts and human rights.

The newest global human rights – the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Time for implementation. Be the one of the first change makers in the implementation of the right.

The right to a healthy environment is the newest human right that’s been recognized as a universal human right by UN General Assembly resolution 76/300.

Following the adoption of the General Assembly resolution, Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, said “But now we must build on this victory and implement the right because the triple planetary crisis is a huge threat to present and future generations. If nations implement this right fully, it will change so much – by empowering action on the triple planetary crisis, providing a more predictable and consistent global regulatory environment for businesses, and protecting those who defend nature. UNEP is committed to assisting Member States and all stakeholders as they implement this vital right.”

The Law Division of UNEP is committed in the protection, promotion, and realization of the right to a healthy environment for all with a special attention for those that are in vulnerable situation including children, youth, women and indigenous peoples.

The Law Division of UNEP is looking for Environmental Rights International UN Volunteer Specialist to join us in the implementation of the right at the international, regional, and national levels.

Task description
Under the direct supervision of the responsible Legal Officer in the Frontiers in Environmental Law Unit of the Environmental Rule of Law Branch in the Law Division the UN Volunteer will undertake the following tasks:
• Support the implementation of Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights in particular Area 5 on Climate Justice
• Implement OHCHR-UNEP joint activities on environmental rights;
• Support UNEP’s work on environmental human rights defenders;
• Collaborate with partners in advancing the right to a healthy environment;
• Engage with UN human rights mechanisms including treaty bodies, Special Procedures;
• Support integration of the right to a healthy environment in multilateral environmental agreements;
• Assist Member States to address priorities in the nexus of human rights, gender equality, and the environment;
• Conduct legal research on a diverse range of assigned issues related to the right to a healthy environment;
• Support capacity building of UNEP staff in human rights, gender equality, and the environment;
• Support the production of websites, publications, posters, and public information activities; and,
• Support various meetings on human rights and environment including through preparing relevant documents.

Results/Expected Outputs
• Background materials and summaries of environmental law meetings according to standards required by the Law Division and consistent with UN style format and protocol.
• High-quality well-reasoned and clearly written recommendations, opinions, and identification of issues on environmental law and human rights issues.
• Clarity on the main intergovernmental and inter-agency processes relevant to international environmental and human rights law, global environmental sustainability, and sustainable development agendas.
• High-quality legal research on international environmental and human rights law including analysis and presentation of key information to facilitate decision-making.
• Develop and implement capacity-building programmes in environmental and human rights law.
• Diplomatic interaction with confidence and effectiveness with Member States.

Eligibility criteria

Age: 27 – 80

Nationality: Candidate must be a national of a country other than the country of assignment.


Required experience
3 years of experience in relevant fields; of which at least two years are in environmental law or human rights law. Experience working on the intersection between human rights and the environment is advantageous.
• You are creative, enthusiastic, and willing to learn more, with a problem-solving mindset
• You are able to communicate and convince many diverse audiences, and the ability to work effectively with a wide range of various actors.
• You know how to handle complexity and evolve in a fast-paced environment by yourself, and take impactful initiatives

Area(s) of expertise: Legal affairs

Driving license: .

Languages: English, Level: Fluent, Required

Required education level

Bachelor degree or equivalent in environmental law, human rights, or similar

Competencies and values
• Professionalism: Ability to identify issues, formulate opinions, make conclusions and rec-ommendations; shows pride in work and in achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines, and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations; takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.
• Planning and organizing: Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; uses time efficiently.
• Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; listens to others, correctly in-terprets messages from others and responds appropriately; proven interpersonal skills; asks questions to clarify, and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; demonstrates openness in sharing in-formation and keeping people informed; good spoken and written communication skills, including ability to prepare clear and concise reports; ability to conduct presentations, ar-ticulate options and positions concisely; ability to make and defend recommendations; ability to communicate and empathize with staff (including national staff), military person-nel, volunteers, counterparts and local interlocutors coming from very diverse back-grounds; ability to maintain composure and remain helpful towards the staff, but objective, without showing personal interest; capacity to transfer information and knowledge to a wide range of different target groups.
• Genuine commitment towards the principles of voluntary engagement, which includes solidarity, compassion, reciprocity, and self-reliance; and commitment towards the UN core values.

Other information

Living conditions and remarks
The Republic of Kenya is an equatorial nation on the coast of East Africa, neighboring Somalia, Ethi-opia, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and the Indian Ocean. Kenya has two levels of Government; Na-tional Government and 47 sub-national Governments called Counties. Counties are further divided into sub-counties. Kenya is a multi-party state with Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. Kenya’s population of more than 40 million is growing at an annual rate of 2.2%. The country’s GNP per capita estimated at purchasing power parity (PPP) is $975, and the GNP is growing at an average rate of 0.1% annually. More than 26% of Kenya’s people live below the international poverty line of $1 per day. Kenya’s main food crops are “maize, wheat, pulses, roots and tubers.” (FAO). Nairobi is a modern metropolitan city where most basic goods and services, health facilities, public transport, telecommunication and banking services and educational facilities are readily available. The city is widely connected through its main airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the smaller Wilson Airport. Air transport is also available to many up-country destinations. The city is home to some 3,000 UN personnel mainly attributed to the fact that it serves as the headquarters for both the UN HABITAT and UNEP. The socio-economic and cultural background of the immediate society the UNV would be living and working in is diverse and prevailing security conditions at the place of assignment is modest. The topographic and climatic features of the assignment location is highland cool and warm tropical climate.
Inclusivity statement:
United Nations Volunteers is an equal opportunity programme that welcomes applications from qualified professionals. We are committed to achieving diversity in terms of gender, care protected characteristics. As part of their adherence to the values of UNV, all UN Volunteers commit themselves to combat any form of discrimination, and to promoting respect for human rights and individual dignity, without distinction of a person’s race, sex, gender identity, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, age, language, social origin or other status.

Inclusivity statement
United Nations Volunteers is an equal opportunity programme that welcomes applications from qualified professionals. We are committed to achieving diversity in terms of gender, care protected characteristics. As part of their adherence to the values of UNV, all UN Volunteers commit themselves to combat any form of discrimination, and to promoting respect for human rights and individual dignity, without distinction of a person’s race, sex, gender identity, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, age, language, social origin or other status.

Note on Covid-19 vaccination requirements
Selected candidates for certain occupational groups may be subject to inoculation (vaccination) requirements, including against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) in line with the applicable host entity policy





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development